Fifth Grade Students Ask Summit County To Ban Plastic Bags

Feb 15, 2019

Credit Summit County

Summit County Council members visited Capitol Hill Wednesday, where a proposal has been made—again—to prohibit local communities from banning plastic bags.

But when the council returned to regular session in Snyderville, they heard from three young students who asked them to pass a bag ban for the whole county.

During the council’s public comment segment, they heard from two fifth-grade students from McPolin Elementary, Shiva Minter and Sonja Preston. They asked that the council follow up on Park City’s plastic-bag law.

Shiva summarized some of her research on plastic bags.

“According to course.com in the U.S. only two states, California and Hawaii, have banned plastic bags on a statewide level,” Shiva Minter explained. “Globally plastic bags are banned in 32 countries and 34% of the U.S. is working against plastic bags. Although this is a great achievement, 163 countries and 48 states have still chosen not to ban plastic bags which still has a negative impact on our environment.”

Snoja said that using the plastic bags can be costly for everyone.

“According to the U.S. National trade commission the 100 billion plastic shopping bags in use each year in the U.S. are made from the estimated equivalent of 439 million gallons of oil and cost shop oils an estimated $4 billion,” Sonja Preston continued. “To put this alarmingly huge number into context that is more than half of Amazon’s annual earnings. Utah spends $376 million annually on plastic bags which is 9% of our national’s total spending. So thinking about the money that goes into purchasing plastic bags consider the amount of money we’d be saving if we banned them right here in Summit County.”

Also stepping up to the podium, 11th grader Caroline Powell from Park City High seconded what the younger students had said.

We asked council member Doug Clyde about a plastic bag ban. He said he thinks there’s substantial support for it on council.

“I think we’re definitely open to that.," Clyde said. "We have not discussed it in detail we’re of course looking to see what the effects have been on certain vendors because we want to take that into consideration. Plastic bags are environmentally more than a nuisance, they’re a hazard. I was just recently in Malaysia, that’s a country that is not exactly on the tip of the spear as far as environmental law work goes but they’re banning plastic bags throughout the country.”

In the meantime, for the second year in a row, a bill has been proposed at the legislature to “ban the bans”—to prohibit local government from ousting the plastic bags.

“There’s always legislation like that it is similar to the bill that surfaced last year," Clyde explained. "The bill that surfaced last year had some traction initially but then was roundly defeated when the person who was representing it came from a district where they manufactured plastic bags.”

Clyde added that the fate of the bill might depend on what they find out about the sponsor.